Home Latest News P.M. Sharif Convenes Meeting to Resolve Deadlock in AJK

P.M. Sharif Convenes Meeting to Resolve Deadlock in AJK

Violent clashes during demonstrations organized by Awami Action Committee leave one dead, dozens more injured

by Staff Report

Screengrab of protests in Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday summoned a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Monday (today) to discuss the ongoing protests in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) amidst deadlock between the protesters and the state government.

In a posting on X, formerly Twitter, the premier voiced concern over violent clashes between AJK police and demonstrators, saying there can be no tolerance for anyone who takes the law into their own hands. “While debate, discussion and peaceful protests are the beauties of democracy, there should be absolutely no tolerance for taking the law in one’s own hands and damaging government properties,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, in situations of chaos and dissent there are always some who rush in to score political points,” he added.

Sharif said he had spoken to AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq and had separately directed all PMLN office bearers in the region to talk to the leaders of the Joint Awami Action Committee (AAC) to resolve the situation. “I urge all parties to resort to peaceful course of action for resolution of their demands. Despite best efforts of detractors, the matter will hopefully be settled soon,” he said.

In a separate statement, President Asif Ali Zardari also called for restraint and for all issues to be resolved through dialogue. In a meeting with a delegation of PPP members of the AJK Legislative Assembly at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, he emphasized the need for all stakeholders to act responsibly so that hostile elements could not exploit the situation to their benefit, according to a statement issued by the President’s Secretariat.

The statement said the delegation had briefed the president on recent developments in AJK, with Zardari noting that the just demands of the people should be addressed as per law. He said he would take up the grievances of the people of AJK with P.M. Sharif to formulate a way forward and regretted the current unrest. He also offered condolences over the unfortunate death of a police officer during the protests and prayed for swift recovery of all those injured.

Violent clashes

The current unrest commenced last week after the AAC called a general strike across AJK to protest taxes and electricity tariffs. During the protest, protesters and police clashed, killing a sub-inspector and injuring dozens more policemen and civilians.

The violent protesters also damaged multiple vehicles, while life in the region came to a standstill as markets, offices and schools and restaurants remained closed. After the violence, police launched a crackdown, arresting dozens of individuals in the AJK capital, and the government imposed Section 144, banning all public gatherings, rallies, and processions.

The central leadership of the AAC has sought to distance itself from the violence, maintaining their movement is peaceful and cannot be held responsible for “isolated” incidents of unrest. Anjuman Tajran President Sahabzada Waqas said the protest was not against the state or any institution, declaring the demonstrators were not against any institution or the state of Pakistan.

Amidst the rancor, a delegation of the AAC held negotiations with the AJK government, but failed to resolve deadlock and announced they would proceed to Muzaffarabad in a long march. The government, in response, had hinted at suspending mobile and internet services in the region and has ordered the closure of schools and offices on Monday (today).

Earlier, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq had said the government was willing to provide relief in electricity and wheat flour prices, adding they would do so at the cost of the development budget if necessary. He said police had shown exemplary restraint despite the killing of a cop by the protesters. “We are ready to talk with AAC at any level and the demands related to the Government of Pakistan will be raised before the federation,” he said, regretting the presence of some “miscreants” among the protesters who wanted to cause unrest.

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